Group of people holding a parachute.

Evidence on Training Opportunities and related training programmes


Training programmes are the most common form of employment assistance and often the most expensive. They aim to increase foundational and vocational skills so that people can enter sustainable employment.

In New Zealand, Training Opportunities has been the largest programme aimed at improving the skills of Work and Income clients so that they may enter employment or further tertiary education.

This report summarises the evidence that informed recent programme changes to Training Opportunities and compares New Zealand and international evidence on training programmes.

It reviews the evidence for those who participated in Training Opportunities between 2000 and 2008. 

Key findings relating to the Training Opportunities programme prior to 1 January 2011

The reconfigured Training Opportunities programme reflects the following evidence:

  • Training Opportunities does not improve the chances of getting a job - participants in Training Opportunities spend longer on a main benefit or in employment and training programmes compared with a matched group of Work and Income Clients.
  • Training Opportunities has become less effective over time - the negative impact of Training Opportunities increased between 2003 and 2007 when compared with those who participated between 2000 and 2002. The negative impact also persisted for longer for more recent participants.
  • Training Opportunities is more successful for some groups - Training Opportunities was more successful for female participants and participants at medium or high risk of long term benefit receipt. Training Opportunities had a negative impact for work-ready participants.
  • Other Work and Income training-related programmes are more successful than Training Opportunities - While other training programmes do not necessarily substitute for the types of skill and training needs that Training Opportunities attempts to address, in general several other training-related programmes appear more successful
  • International evidence shows a mixed record on the effectiveness of training programmes - results indicate that care is required in designing and implementing training programmes. Effective training programmes generally:
    • are tightly targeted at groups that benefit
    • are small scale
    • are tightly targeted to the needs of participants who gain qualifications that are recognised and valued by employers
    • have an on-the-job component with strong links to employers.